HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): An Industry Man For The FCC. ” There is no question that Mr. Wheeler, who was chief executive of the National Cable Television Association for five years and the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association for 12 years before becoming a venture capitalist, understands the industry. The question is whether his long career representing the interests of telecommunications companies would make it hard for him to be an independent and fair regulator when consumers have few choices and pay high prices for cellphone, cable TV and broadband services. He was also a big “bundler” for Mr. Obama in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, which means that he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from relatives, friends and business associates. Political campaigns disclose their donors, but they are not required to disclose which of them were recruited by bundlers like Mr. Wheeler. Given his background, it is almost certain that he raised money from people whose companies he would regulate, creating potential conflicts of interest.”
SEEMS LIKE A FEW CLASS-ACTION SUITS — OR BEHEADINGS — COULD ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM DIRECTLY: FCC needs to stop ‘cramming’ on cellphones.
Figuring it might have been from a friend, Chao clicked it open and — what do you know? — it, too, was from Ringtunecloud.com.
So she did exactly what wireless companies advise customers to do. She called her provider, Verizon Wireless, and asked that Ringtunecloud.com be blocked from sending any more texts to her phone.
The Verizon rep agreed to do this, but informed Chao that a $9.99 monthly service charge already had been applied to her account — just because she had clicked on the text.
“Opening a text can’t possibly be interpreted as consent to receive whatever service they’re trying to sell,” Chao, a lawyer with the California Department of Insurance, told me. “But that’s what they’re trying to get away with.
“I don’t see how this could even be legal.”
Me, neither — and lawyers I’ve spoken with say it probably isn’t. Nor do I understand how Verizon could be a willing accomplice in this racket by allowing Ringtunecloud.com easy access to a customer’s bill.
The frenzy began Monday morning when the Washington Post reported that “the federal government wants to create super Wi-Fi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month.” Best of all, network access would be free. “If all goes as planned, free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas,” the Post reported. The clear implication: this was a bold—and entirely brand-new—plan.
Unfortunately, the piece was basically nonsense. What had really happened was in fact unbelievably boring: the Post simply observed an incremental development in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) at the Federal Communications Commission over the issue of incentive auctions that might free up some additional unlicensed spectrum for so-called “White Space Devices” (read our explainer) operating in and around the current over-the-air TV bands. (I told you it was boring; in addition, the basic debate over White Space Devices was actually settled in 2008.)
From this thin material, which basically consisted of Internet service providers and tech companies sniping at each other in long legal documents, with no decisions being made by anyone and no new proposals of anything, the Post then reported—on the front page, above the fold of the country’s eighth-most highly circulated newspaper—that the FCC plan could lead to free Internet for most US residents.
So much for all those layers of editors and fact-checkers.
UPDATE: Reader Drew Kelley writes: “Another demonstration that the media-class is basically composed of moochers, who want everything on somebody else’s dime.”
OBAMAS DID MILLION-DOLLAR MEALS IN THE WHITE HOUSE WHILE JOBLESS AMERICANS LOOKED FOR WORK: And trust me, there is much more to this story than a president and First Lady using tax dollars to make like Gatsby. Today’s piece in The Washington Examiner is just the first course, so to speak.
WASHINGTON POST: GM’s Vaunted Volt Is On The Road To Nowhere, Fast. If GM and Obama have lost the Post . . . .
THE HILL: FCC Backpedals From Internet Tax Proposal. “The Federal Communications Commission is rapidly backpedalling from a proposal to tax broadband Internet service after a public outcry over the issue. Democrats and Republicans at the agency are now blaming each other for pushing the idea in the first place.”
HOPEY-CHANGEY: FCC eyes tax on Internet service. “The FCC issued a request for comments on the proposal in April. Dozens of companies and trade associations have weighed in, but the issue has largely flown under the public’s radar.”
I remember the good old days when taxes were passed by Congress.
STREET VIEW SCANDAL UPDATE: “According to the FCC report, Google’s collection of Street View data was not the unauthorized act of a rogue engineer, as Google had portrayed it, but an authorized program known to supervisors and at least seven other engineers. The original proposal contradicts Google’s claim that there was no intent to gather payload data: ‘We are logging user traffic along with sufficient data to precisely triangulate their position at a given time, along with information about what they were doing.’”
TRANSPARENCY: FCC Approves New Rule on Political TV Advertising.
The Federal Communications Commission approved new regulations Friday requiring broadcasters to publish political advertising data online, a move that could shed light on who is trying to influence elections amid unprecedented campaign spending.
Television stations already are required to track purchases of political advertising and make the information publicly available, but posting it on the Web will make it easier to access. Only stations affiliated with ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox in the top 50 media markets will be required to post data on new ad buys this year, with smaller stations expected to follow in 2014.
I’d like to see the New York Times’ advertising figures, too. Since they supported this rule, perhaps they’ll provide them. . . .
WHY IS THIS THE FCC’S BUSINESS? FCC pushes for tablet computers in schools.
OF COURSE IT DOES: White House Opposes FCC Overhaul Bill.
The automated calls are illegal because they do not state who they are from (there is no known group called The Women of the 99 Percent) or provide a callback number, as required under the US Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.
‘It is typical that a Democrat front group like this thumbs their noses at the same federal campaign finance laws they like to tout in their own campaign literature,’ Brady said.
He added that it was ‘no coincidence’ that the districts receiving the calls were all on ‘the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) hit list’, he demanding an immediate inquiry.
Republican strategists view the calls are part of a concerted effort by Democrats, from President Barack Obama down, to shift the focus of November’s elections away from the sputtering economy and onto what the Left has branded ‘the Republican war on women’.
Separately, a number of voters have complained to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about the calls, requesting that the Obama administration initiate a federal investigation.
Federal and state investigators have the power to subpoena records from telephone companies, allowing them to follow the money to the source of the illegal calls.
Follow the money, indeed.
TRANSPARENCY: FOIA Data Suggest FCC More Secretive Than CIA.
PETITION: Call For The FCC To Remove Bill Maher.
SHUT UP, PLEBES: FCC Inquires Into Its Own Authority To Regulate Communication Service Shutdowns. “The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing whether or when the police and other government officials can intentionally interrupt cellphone and Internet service to protect public safety. A scary proposition which will easily become a First Amendment issue. Does the FCC have the authority to [regulate local or state authorities' decision to] take down cellular networks if they determine there is an imminent threat? The FCC is currently asking for public input (PDF) on this decision.”
A cellular or Internet shutdown should be interpreted as a serious warning sign of ongoing government misconduct.
Related: Courts, not FCC, Should Protect Free Speech against Mobile Service Shut-offs. Shutting off service should be a strict-liability tort, with no government immunity. Not that that’s likely. Responsibility is for the little people.
CRONY CAPITALISM (CONT’D): Documents show Obama’s FCC used regulatory muscle to destroy LightSquared’s competition.
DOCUMENTS: Lightsquared Shaping Up As The FCC’s Solyndra. I think we’re going to find that every federal department has its own Solyndra.
THE HILL: FCC moves to kill LightSquared over GPS interference concerns. “The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moved to reject LightSquared’s planned wireless network on Tuesday after the president’s top adviser on telecom issues said there is ‘no practical way’ to prevent the network from disrupting GPS devices.”
BUT FOR SOME REASON, YOU STILL CAN’T USE YOURS IN THE PASSENGER COMPARTMENT ON TAKEOFF OR LANDING: The Air Force is Buying iPads To Replace Pilots’ Books and Maps.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
Im a flight attendant at a major U.S. airline, and I keep current on the talk concerning the onboard experience. I feel you are being much too glib about the latest wrinkle in the electronics use debate.
Pilots dont taxi and takeoff with manuals on their laps. Especially at takeoff and the first four minutes of flight, they are extremely busy and focused on getting and keeping that aircraft in the air. They arent consulting manuals; in fact, they take directions from the air traffic controllers to change headings or attain a certain altitude.
As for the ipads, they would not be used below 10,000 ft, JUST AS PASSENGERS’ ELECTRONICS are not to be used during that phase of flight. The ipads benefit lies in its weight versus the heavy manual case all pilots carry, and its ease of use. Multiply that across an entire fleet, times how many flights a day, and in a year’s time you have considerable savings in fuel AND in a smaller measure, savings on the bodies of pilots hauling around manuals all year.
But as a flight attendant, I want to point out another reason for passengers to power down electronics once the boarding door closes: from that time until the aircraft passes through 10,000 ft of altitude, the most incidents, malfunctions, crashes, equipment failures, and aborted takeoffs have historically occured. And as the person tasked with emptying that aircraft in a crash, or keeping it from emptying if no emergency exists, I want your undivided attention. I want you, the passenger, undistracted, until we are out of that critical phase of flight.
We dont mark 10,000 ft because the view is pretty at that height. We dont mark it because pilots are busy. We mark it because past events have been studied. If you want distracted passengers, unready to egress, or follow cogent commands, go catch a cruise in Italy. But avoid airplanes, please.
Well, that kinda makes sense. But it’s not what the FAA says: “Since I wrote a column last month asking why these rules exist, I’ve spoken with the F.A.A., American Airlines, Boeing and several others trying to find answers. Each has given me a radically different rationale that contradicts the others. The F.A.A. admits that its reasons have nothing to do with the undivided attention of passengers or the fear of Kindles flying out of passengers’ hands in case there is turbulence. That leaves us with the danger of electrical emissions.”
Bottom line: “The only reason these rules exist from the F.A.A. is because of agency inertia and paranoia.”
EUGENE VOLOKH HAS AN ARTICLE OUT ON FREEDOM OF THE PRESS, and notes that the phrase is about the freedom to publish, not freedom for the “institutional Press,” though modern speakers sometimes suggest otherwise. That’s right, of course. I’ve noted that both here on the blog and in my FCC “Open Internet” testimony. As you might expect, however, Eugene’s treatment is far more thorough and comprehensive.
ELECTRONIC DEVICES ON TAKEOFF: The Federal Aviation Administration has its reasons for preventing passengers from reading from their Kindles and iPads during takeoff and landing. But they just don’t add up. Key bit: “The only reason these rules exist from the F.A.A. is because of agency inertia and paranoia.”
LIGHTSQUARED FLUNKS AGAIN: “At this point, some people at the FCC and in the White House should start feeling a little … nervous. Yesterday afternoon, the Departments of Defense and Transportation released a joint statement stating that LightSquared is about as bad on navigational equipment as everyone knew it would be.”
GORDON CROVITZ: Dropped Call? Blame The FCC.
IT’S NOT JUST LIGHTSQUARED: Regulators could sanction Falcone over trading.
Philip Falcone, a hedge fund manager who became an overnight billionaire by betting on the collapse on the U.S. housing market, is now fighting to keep his career afloat.
The investor, who has since bet much of his Harbinger Capital Partners money on a cash-strapped wireless telecom company, said on Thursday that U.S. securities regulators are considering filing civil fraud charges against him and what is left of his once $26 billion hedge fund empire. . . . Harbinger now manages less than $4 billion and roughly half of the money is tied up in its investment in LightSquared LP, the upstart wireless telecom on which Falcone has bet the ranch. LightSquared is running low on cash and its outstanding debt trades at a steep discount as its fortunes have floundered due to a number of technical issues.
Recently the company’s technology was said to interfere with the global positioning system, the widely used technology involved in everything from navigation to managing irrigation. Some lawmakers have accused the Federal Communications Commission of fast-tracking LightSquared’s project, although the agency says its process has been engineering-based.
“Now the FCC is faced with the real possibility that it made a multibillion-dollar grant of valuable spectrum to someone who could be charged with violating securities laws,” said Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. “The FCC chairman should lead the effort to provide documents and offer insight into how the agency decided to give Mr. Falcone, Harbinger Capital and LightSquared this multibillion-dollar grant.”
GPS SAVES THE WORLD, but who will save GPS?
The enemies threatening the future of the GPS are many:
Next-generation mobile broadband services angling for a piece of the electromagnetic spectrum relied on by GPS;
Cheap GPS jammers flooding the highways, thanks to consumers worried about invasive police and employer surveillance;
Cosmic events, like solar storms;
Future location technology that will ultimately push those services to places where GPS simply cannot go
“The results will be immediate and disastrous,” kicks off Stanford engineering professor Brad Parkinson, widely known as the father of GPS, while introducing the fifth annual Stanford University symposium on Position, Navigation and Time on Thursday.
Parkinson isn’t just presenting; he’s holding court. The renowned GPS pioneer and former combat airman is on a first-name basis with generals, and has taught the finer points of satellite location for decades. The audience contains a conspicuous number of his former students who have come from around the world to pay homage — many of them now among the world’s GPS elite. Throughout the day, he’ll interrupt speakers with questions from the floor, and each time be received with warm and universal deference.
Right now, though, he is hammering the FCC, and its tepid response to an influential rising mobile broadband player, Lightsquared, that may be threatening the integrity of GPS signals.
LIGHTSQUARED: The Next Obama Pay-For-Play Morass? “The Obama FCC took the lead in intervening on the donor, billionaire hedge fund manster Philip Falcone’s, behalf and granting his company called ‘LightSquared’ one of those coveted Obama waivers from existing law. Then Obama officials reportedly pressured a general to alter his testimony about the company’s impact on military satellite transmissions.”
FREE SPEECH UPDATE: FCC Finally Kills Off Fairness Doctrine.
SO I JUST NOTICED THAT LAST WEEK THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT my proposed 50% surtax on government officials’ post-government incomes over at TaxProf. To clarify, when I said “government officials” I meant political appointees and agency heads. So, for example, FCC Commissioner Meredith Atwell Baker, who approved the Comcast merger and then took a lucrative job at Comcast would pay a 50% surtax on the amount Comcast pays her over and above her FCC salary. Some have suggested that the number should be higher — 70%, say — but that’s okay. I’m not wedded to 50%.
FCC REGULATOR TO JOIN COMCAST AFTER OK OF NBC DEAL. The revolving door revolves yet again.
THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEKEND:
Who will be washed away by the preference cascade?
How the Journalism Sausage gets made.
The sad fate of Amazon Tote.
At the Northwestern Law Review, an online symposium on the Tea Party and popular constitutionalism.
A simple weight-loss plan that worked.
They told me if I voted for John McCain, the FCC would be cracking down on broadcast indecency — and they were right!
Burn a Koran, rake in the cash?
Val Kilmer’s best role ever.
When academic politics turn lethal.
Good question: Where is your Syrian Humanitarian Flotilla Erdogan?
HERE’S YOUR HOPE AND CHANGE: Obama administration asks Supreme Court to uphold FCC’s indecency policy. I remember some of the post-9/11 liberal hawks turning on Bush because of broadcast-indecency regulation and Howard Stern. So: How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?
“CONSUMER ADVOCATES” want FCC to regulate political ads. Of course they do. But while we’re talking about the need for disclosure, how about having newspapers note on every story about unions that the Newspaper Guild is a member of the CWA, and that reporting on unions may be influenced by reporters’ affiliations? Or requiring similar disclosures that the local NPR affiliate gets donations from the teachers’ union? In the interest of consumer information, don’t y’know?
UPDATE: Speaking of conflicts of interest, a reader reminds me of this: LA police union wants San Diego Union-Tribune editorial writers fired. “The San Diego paper’s new owner relies on a $30-million investment from the pension fund of Los Angeles police officers and firefighters to help fund its acquisitions of companies; the union says that makes it a part owner of the Union-Tribune.”
STATE-CONTROLLED MEDIA, INDEED: Did an FCC official do work for PBS simultaneously? “Did Genachowski know of Kwon’s activities? Did anyone wonder where Kwon was doing during what looks like copious time away from the office? Perhaps someone in an Oversight Committee might like to ask Genachowski a few of these questions. Given the propensity for PBS’ puppets to show up in Congress to testify for funding, it seems like perhaps we should find out what other puppets may still be working at the FCC.”
THE HILL: LAWMAKERS URGE F.C.C. TO INVESTIGATE GOOGLE. “Google last year said its Street View cars had downloaded unsecured data from private WiFi networks including emails and passwords while taking photos for Google Maps. In the letter, Rogers and Barrow argue the FCC must seek answers on the incident from the people directly involved.”
DON SURBER: De-Fund The FCC. “People are free to quote you in context, out of context, not quote you, and even misquote you. Free speech is a God-given right and how dare this commissioner get between me and God? His agency is an outdated relic of the Victrola era. Get rid of it.”
FIRST, THEY BRING BACK DUCK AND COVER. Now it’s this: FCC: Presidential emergency alerts to be tested. “The primary goal is to provide the President with a mechanism to communicate with the American public during times of national emergency.” So do they know something we don’t? They seem awfully interested in a new experimental anti-radiation medicine, as I noted in my Atlantic piece. More here.
MICHAEL BARONE: Obama’s Antique Vision of Technological Progress. “If you put together Obama’s resistance to just about any serious changes in entitlement spending with his antique vision of technological progress, what you see is an America where the public sector permanently consumes a larger part of the economy than in the past and squanders the proceeds on white elephants like faux high-speed rail lines and political payoffs to the teacher and other public-sector unions. Private-sector innovation gets squeezed out by regulations like the Obama FCC’s net neutrality rules. It’s a plan for a static rather than dynamic economy.”
UPDATE: Dodd Harris emails: “Obama looks more like Wesley Mouch with each passing day.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Michael Walker writes: “…and Jeff Immelt is Orren Boyle.”
MSNBC SAYS SAYONARA TO KEITH OLBERMANN.
Or as some call him, he who must not be named.
UPDATE: Reader Adam Kiwiatkowski emails: “His viewer is going to be bummed.”
And, apparently, Comcast has now become the evilest corporation on the planet.
Plus, from Don Surber:
The FCC just approved GE’s sale of MSNBC’s parent company — NBC/Universal — to Comcast. The Obama administration just hired GE’s CEO to a big position.
I think some moves are being made behind the scene.
Hey, Olbermann, this was the president you wanted.
He was a useful idiot for a while. Now he’s no longer useful. Expect to see more of this kind of thing.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Goodbye to one of the world’s worst people.
MORE: Top 10 New Job Suggestions For Keith Olbermann. My favorite: “Audition for the part of the creepy gym teacher on MTV’s ‘Skins.’”
I was only on Olbermann’s show once, on election night 2004, when he was still more or less sane.
BACKDOOR BILINGUALISM? “As Stoll notes, legislation that did what the FCC just did would never pass Congress. I don’t even think it would have passed last year’s Congress. But don’t lawmakers have the power to reverse the FCC?”
GEORGE WILL CALLS FOR A CONGRESS THAT REASSERTS ITS POWER:
Many congressional Republicans, and surely some Democrats with institutional pride, think Congress is being derogated and marginalized by two developments. One is the apotheosis of the presidency as the mainspring of the government and the custodian of the nation’s soul. The second is the growing autonomy of the regulatory state, an apparatus responsive to presidents.
The eclipse of Congress by the executive branch and other agencies is Congress’s fault. It is the result of lazy legislating and lax oversight. Too many “laws” actually are little more than pious sentiments endorsing social goals – environmental, educational, etc. – the meanings of which are later defined by executive-branch rule-making. In creating faux laws, the national legislature often creates legislators in the executive branch, making a mockery of the separation of powers. And Congress makes a mockery of itself when the Federal Register, a compilation of the regulatory state’s activities, is a more important guide to governance than the Congressional Record.
Unfortunately, courts long ago made clear that they will not seriously inhibit Congress’s scandalous delegation of its lawmaking function to others. So Congress should stop whining about the actions of the EPA (emissions controls), the FCC (“net neutrality”), the Interior Department (reclassifications of public lands) and other agencies and should start rereading Shakespeare: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
The problem is, Congress decided decades ago that it would rather cede power to the bureaucracy than keep it to itself, so long as it could also cede responsibility and then point fingers when things go wrong. Will that change? Maybe.
UPDATE: Reader Bill Rickords emails:
That guy is right about the Feds getting into the “trusting” part. And Intels new motherboard and chips are the lynchpin in this. Called – South Bridge – They have a hard coded chip level anti copy thing that any info the TV and or Movie or RIAA folks label will simply be refused to run at the chip level and there is nothing you will be able to do. Software cant route around it. Nasty stuff.
And he is also right about the right and this anti neutrality trope that has been foisted out and about by ATT, CBS and all the other media as “regulating the net” is rubbish. ATT sent out memos to their troops to call Neutrality “regulation” and they knew the Right would glom onto that word and run with it. They are the ones that want to control the speed and most importantly they absolutely have to control “ACCESS” none of their business models work without controlling BOTH access and content. They want to control and sell the speed of your access and by prioritizing bits and letting them through the pipes based on who pays up first and most. Neutrality has nothing to do with “regulating” the net. It says they can’t do that. Best to try and keep the net as a utility open to all.
They’ve already deployed the most effective copy-protection of all from my perspective: They don’t make anything I’d want to copy anyway. But here’s my FCC Testimony on “network neutrality.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader sends this correction:
The reader email you published from Bill Rickords has one error that should probably be corrected. While Intel does make technology that could help enforce the “Trusted Identity” scheme, the name for that technology is not South Bridge, it’s Trusted Computing. A “south bridge” is simply a chip on the motherboard that helps with
input/output functions — *any* input/output functions. (The “north bridge” is the chip that delivers data from memory to the processor; the names come from the traditional diagram layout, where the processor is drawn at the top of the diagram, the “north bridge” chip below it, and the “south bridge” chip even further down the diagram). Just because a motherboard has a “south bridge” chip on it does *not* mean that it can enforce what you do with your PC; the name you want to look for there is the so-called “Trusted Computing” scheme.
Whatever it’s called, I don’t like it. If my computer doesn’t belong to me, why am I paying you for it?
POLL: Just 21% Want FCC to Regulate Internet, Most Fear Regulation Would Promote Political Agenda. “Most Mainstream voters see free market competition as the best way to protect Internet users, but most in the Political Class prefer more regulation. Seventy-eight percent (78%) in the Political Class believe the regulations would be handled in an unbiased manner, while 72% of Mainstream voters believe they would be used to promote a political agenda.” Ya think?
SCOTT JOHNSON: Gangster Government, FCC Edition.
IF THE FCC HAD REGULATED THE INTERNET. Some 1990s alternate history that seems all too timely now . . . .
ED MORRISSEY: Time To Abolish The FCC?
Why do we need the FCC in the 21st century? Most television channels are narrowcasters, using satellites and cable channels that don’t eat up limited broadcast space in local markets. The phone system in the US is no longer monopolized, and the issues of access and competition in those areas could be handled by state public-utility commissions, as they are now. The licensing of broadcast stations could be handled by the Commerce Department, or by a greatly-reduced FCC with binding limitations on jurisdiction.
We have managed to free ourselves from the encumbrances of monopolization over the last thirty years. This country doesn’t need a bloated bureaucracy getting in the way of innovation and commerce. It needs government to acknowledge that its communications-regulation apparatus is archaic and in need of downsizing, rather than attempting to nationalize the media.
DAVID HARSANYI: Save The Internet: Abolish the FCC!
FCC COMMISSIONER MEREDITH BAKER: Hands Off Tomorrow’s Internet. How about we abolish the FCC?
UPDATE: Reader Tim Peters emails:
The last paragraph of this article asks, “Why does the FCC plan to intervene in a rushed manner, days before the year’s end, in the one sector of the economy that is working so well to create consumer choice, jobs and entrepreneurial opportunity?”
A very simple and obvious answer comes to mind. Power.
The internet has done more to shape political and cultural opinion in the last ten years than any other vehicle. (As I’m sure you’re well aware) It has also exposed the warts on the ruling elites and their shills in the main-stream media. It has been the lynch pin of the tea party movement and the ever growing opposition to centralized, top down, always increasing state control. It was crucial in the shaping of the public perception which led to this fall’s electoral debacle for the democrats and that’s why they seem so determined to forge ahead. Julius Seizure is just the front man.
JIM HARPER: The FCC Should Not Regulate The Internet. So abolish it, turn the technical frequency-regulation bits over to the Department of Commerce, and call it a day. It’ll save money, and promote freedom.
CHILDREN PLAYING WITH DYNAMITE: FCC to Vote on Internet Regulation Plan Despite Economic Warnings.
THE FCC’S Threat To Internet Freedom.
DAILY CALLER: Meet the FCC commissioner who wants to control the news. “Copps has a long history of advocating for government control of media.” As Scot Powe has documented, the FCC’s historical role has tended toward the thuggish.
THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR JOHN MCCAIN, HICK PREACHERS WOULD BE LOBBYING THE FCC FOR CENSORSHIP. And they were right! Sharpton wants FCC to take Limbaugh off the air.
ABOLISH THE FCC? The Hill: FCC proposal to regulate news draws fire.
HOW ABOUT WE JUST ABOLISH THE FCC INSTEAD? FCC commissioners demand authority over campaign financing, free Internet.
ANDY KESSLER: TIME TO SHUT DOWN THE FCC:
It’s time to close the Federal Communications Commission. This week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski gave a speech outlining his push for net neutrality, the absurd notion that the Internet should be “open and free” when in fact it’s quite expensive to build. Net neutrality will straitjacket the U.S. economy’s single most important driver of productivity and transformation.
Besides the obvious question of whether the FCC even has the authority to regulate the Web—in April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said it doesn’t—the agency has a long history of restraining trade.
And, as Scot Powe noted in his American Broadcasting and the First Amendment, of targeting political speech by those out of power.
THE HILL: FCC investigates Google ‘Wi-Spy’ breach. “The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is investigating whether Google broke federal law when it collected private user data, including e-mails and passwords, from Wi-Fi networks, an FCC official confirmed on Wednesday.”
If any company but Google had done this, there would be howls for blood. Why has Google gotten off so lightly so far?
A TRAILER FOR THE NEW HARRY POTTER MOVIE.
DIRTY TRICKS? A reader emails that if you put lincoln memorial washington dc into Google Maps, you actually get directions to the FDR. I’m guessing it’s a google-bomb attack on the Glenn Beck 8/28 rally attendees. Here’s the Mapquest version.
UPDATE: Reader Julian Ferry writes:
There is a link below the descriptions on the google map called “report a problem”.
I would recommend that all readers who click on the map also click on that link, and do indeed report the problem. It will be interesting to see how fast google fixes this problem.
If you were in the presence of a man having a heart attack, how would you respond? As he clutched his chest in desperation and pain, would you call 911? Would you try to save him from dying? Of course you would.
But if that man was Rush Limbaugh, and you were Sarah Spitz, a producer for National Public Radio, that isn’t what you’d do at all.
In a post to the list-serv Journolist, an online meeting place for liberal journalists, Spitz wrote that she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment.
In boasting that she would gleefully watch a man die in front of her eyes, Spitz seemed to shock even herself. “I never knew I had this much hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.”
Spitz’s hatred for Limbaugh seems intemperate, even imbalanced. On Journolist, where conservatives are regarded not as opponents but as enemies, it barely raised an eyebrow. . . .
The very existence of Fox News, meanwhile, sends Journolisters into paroxysms of rage. When Howell Raines charged that the network had a conservative bias, the members of Journolist discussed whether the federal government should shut the channel down.
“I am genuinely scared” of Fox, wrote Guardian columnist Daniel Davies, because it “shows you that a genuinely shameless and unethical media organisation *cannot* be controlled by any form of peer pressure or self-regulation, and nor can it be successfully cold-shouldered or ostracised. In order to have even a semblance of control, you need a tough legal framework.” Davies, a Brit, frequently argued the United States needed stricter libel laws.
“I agree,” said Michael Scherer of Time Magazine. Roger “Ailes understands that his job is to build a tribal identity, not a news organization. You can’t hurt Fox by saying it gets it wrong, if Ailes just uses the criticism to deepen the tribal identity.”
Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA, suggested that the federal government simply yank Fox off the air. “I hate to open this can of worms,” he wrote, “but is there any reason why the FCC couldn’t simply pull their broadcasting permit once it expires?”
Stalinist by instinct, aren’t they?
UPDATE: I didn’t notice this at first, but does Zasloff think that Fox — a cable network — has a “broadcasting permit” that the FCC can “pull?” I understand that some folks on the left would like that to be the case, but it’s not.
ANOTHER UPDATE: According to this Washington Examiner piece, Sarah Spitz is not an NPR producer, but
producer* of the KCRW public radio program “Left, Right and Center,” which is heard on a number of NPR stations across the country.
Just to get that right.
REVIEWING THE REVIEWERS: A roundup of book reviews from all over.
DAILY CALLER: Free Press’s schizophrenic relationship with the FCC.
DECIDING THE FATE OF THE INTERNET in a back room at the FCC?
WELL, EVERYONE TRUSTS THEM, RIGHT? FCC Vote Marks Effort To Take Greater Control of the Web.
APPLE’S MOBILE RULES to get FCC scrutiny. “The U.S. Federal Trade Commission will investigate whether Apple Inc.’s business practices harm competition in the market for software used on mobile devices, people familiar with the situation said. . . . This may not be the only antitrust investigation Apple faces. Justice Department lawyers recently contacted companies about Apple’s practices in the music business.”
ANDY KESSLER: The iPhone, Net Neutrality and the FCC. “AT&T’s Picturephone, shown at the 1964 World’s Fair, was a huge flop. Apple’s new iPhone 4, announced this week, has a front-facing camera for video chats. It might succeed, except that AT&T isn’t providing enough bandwidth capacity.”
JULIUS CAESAR OF THE INTERNET: The FCC puts another industry under political control.
CHANGE: FCC Lets Hollywood Turn Off Your Output Jacks. “Hollywood will soon have the power to remotely disable the analog outputs on your set-top box, under a decision by federal regulators on Friday intended to prevent home recording of new movie releases.” Remember — nothing belongs to you. It all belongs to them. They just let you use it. If you’re nice.
CHINA MIEVILLE wins Arthur C. Clarke award.
TAKING IT EASY in Molto Gusto.
A BLOW TO “NET NEUTRALITY:” Court: FCC has no power to regulate Net neutrality. “Tuesday’s decision could doom one of the signature initiatives of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat. Last October, Genachowski announced plans to begin drafting a formal set of Net neutrality rules–even though Congress has not given the agency permission to begin.”
PETER SUDERMAN ON THE FCC: A doddering bureaucracy whose time has passed.
PLUS-SIZED VERSIONS of the Palm Pre and Pixi.
I dunno. It looks like Jimmy Carter to me, but he’s not dead — except politically.
UPDATE: A reader suggests: “I was thinking it is more likely to be Herbert Hoover…”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader C.J. Burch writes: “Warren G. Harding isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. But I can guarantee you it isn’t Abraham Lincoln.”
MORE: Ghosts In The Machine. Plus an amusing Dick Cheney reminder.
STILL MORE: Chris Fountain writes: “Wesley Mouch.” But of course! It’s the Ghost Of Appointees Yet To Come! Or maybe not . . . .
PETER SUDERMAN ON NET NEUTRALITY: How the tech industry learned to stop worrying and love the FCC.
My thoughts, as presented in testimony to the FCC, are here.
GETTING RID OF Analog landlines?
CAR LUST: Santa’s Sleigh.
SO I’M DOING AN FCC PANEL on their Open Internet proposals (I think you can stream it at the link), and my take is that I’m for it in principle, but wary in practice. Here’s a copy of my prepared statement, for those who are interested. Note the cautionary observations at the end. Ironically, I’m connecting via an outdated ISDN setup, which supports my point about regulators being stuck behind the technology curve, I guess . . . .
UPDATE: Okay, now the ISDN isn’t working . . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Success! Not sure when I’ll be on, though.
MORE: Okay, they brought me on and the audio didn’t work. [Silenced by the FCC! -- ed. Well, not deliberately, I'm pretty sure.] Trying again in a bit.
FINALLY: Okay, it all worked out in the end; just a few bugs along the way. I gotta say, ISDN felt so 1990s — iChat or SkypeHQ would have been so much better. And easier.
NO, I WON’T BE IN D.C. FOR THE BIG Code Red Rally On Health Care tomorrow. I’m doing some testimony to the FCC on Open Internet stuff, but I’m doing it via . . . the Internet, so I’ll actually be in Knoxville.
MY EARLIER TECH-BLEG POST on AM radios suitable for the sticks produced a number of emails from readers.
Several said the problem wasn’t the radio, but needing a better antenna. Reader Rob Witmer recommends the Terk AM-100. “Passive AM antenna requires no AM antenna jack. Greatly improves reception of weak signals. Works well during the day and even better at night.”
And reader William Goelkel writes: “Your reader in Colorado needs an antenna, not a new radio. Suggest he find a local ham radio operator. Most would be delighted to help build one; no charge. List of HAM clubs in CO.” Hams are amazingly generous folks, in my experience.
And Charlie Martin writes: ‘Glenn, I grew up in those mountains; what we used to do was just string out a long wire for an antenna.” Don’t forget the lightning arrestor!
Alan Paprocki spoke for many when he wrote: “Heavens, why not the GE Superradio? It’s quite famous, you know.”
Jerry Hunter writes: “I have 2 Sangeans, a PR-D5 AM-FM and an ATS-909 AM-FM-Worldband . The AM sections are as good as you are likely to find these days. They don’t make them like they used to. Today they seem to be included as an afterthought. When I was a teenager I had a tube radio that would pull in AM stations from hundreds of miles away, especially at night.”
Lots of people also recommended Crane radios.
I’d try the antenna first, but my little Grundig pulled in stations from all over with no external antenna needed. I’m not sure what happened to it. I do have one of these hand-cranked AM/FM/Shortwave radios for emergencies, but I haven’t tried it out on long-distance listening.
And there’s always internet streaming! Reader Andrew Hamilton sends this site to help find live streams.
UPDATE: Reader James Clark writes:
I suggest you and or your person contact Bob Crane, the proprietor of the C.Crane Co. at 800-522-8863, or at ccrane.com. I think your best results, in this case, come from dealing directly with Mr. Crane. He is an AM radio aficionado of many years who has created a business around his interest. His knowledge extends far beyond the products in his current catalog including into the world of antennae. I have found him easily approachable and a person readily enjoying to talk about the world of radio.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Harry Shearer emails: “I agree re: the Sangean. In my youth, I had a car radio that, on cold winter nights in LA, could pick up WABC New York, which was supposed to be impossible. It is now.” Yeah, I wonder how much of that is a decline in radio quality and how much is increased interference from more gadgets and spectrum use. Anybody know?
MORE: Or the lack of sunspots. Reader Dan McAfee writes:
I read an interesting article in World Radio Magazine the other day (on page 28 of the pdf) and wrote about it here. I would have thought that the quiet sun (no sunspots) would be a boon to radio communications, but it turns out that sunspots increase solar winds which brush cosmic rays away from Earth… no sunspots, more cosmic rays, poorer reception. And we’re in the deepest solar minimum in a century…
STILL MORE: Or maybe it’s just bureaucrats. Reader Jim McKee writes:
The problem of not being able to get WABC is a result of the FCC changing the protections for “clear channel” am stations. Some stations like WABC (or WOWO in my old home town in Ft. Wayne, IN) had frequencies to themselves and more power. Whenever I mention my hometown to people over a certain age they still mention that the only thing they know about it was having heard WOWO. More info. on the decline of clear channel stations on wikipedia here.
This has been an interesting discussion!
THE WEEK IN WINDOWS: PC vs. Mac for the Holidays. Windows 7 has already outpaced Mac OS in adoptions.
GOURMET MAGAZINE’S last Thanksgiving. With recipes.